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and created ―Donkey Kong‖.
Yokoi produced Miyamoto‘s
games ―Donkey Kong‖,
―Donkey Kong Jr.‖, and
―Mario Bros.‖ Miyamoto was
rewarded with his own devel-
opment team, starting him
on the path to becoming
probably the greatest game
designer that will ever live.
Not content with fiddling with
D-pads, Yokoi brought hand-
held gaming into the main-
stream. A pioneer of Nin-
tendo‘s Game & Watch se-
ries, Yokoi went on to design
the Nintendo Game Boy Famicom Disk System
which hit Japan in April of 1989 and Original Game Boy Mario Land, Kirby‘s Dream Land, The
North America six months later. What Legend of Zelda: Link‘s Awakening,
distinguished the Game Boy from the (Continued from page 7) and Tetris made the Game Boy fa-
Game & Watch line was that despite mous and to this day it stands as one
structure can figure out how it works. being equally portable, the Game Boy of Nintendo‘s greatest achievements.
Gunpei‘s compact digital cross was allowed for cartridge swapping. Inter- In fact, Nintendo dominates handheld
not the first to need only a thumb to estingly enough, Yokoi insisted on gaming to this very day thanks to the
use but by placing it on the left of a keeping the Game Boy behind the legacy of the Game Boy line and
horizontal controller, it allowed for a times. Competing handhelds like the Yokoi‘s contributions.
much more comfortable experience. Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx had
The design prevented the left and full color screens. Yokoi, however, With the Nintendo Entertainment Sys-
right hands of the user from interfer- focused more on inexpensive technol- tem (or Famicom in Japan), Yokoi saw
ing with each other and is ultimately ogy and long battery life. For a com- many of the people he trained create
more ergonomic. parison, the Game Gear required six one of the greatest game systems AA batteries for about 6 hours of use ever. And though his greatest
In 1980, Nintendo wanted in on the while the Game Boy needed only 4 AA achievements came in the form of
video game craze in a big way. Yokoi batteries and could last for up to 35 hardware, Yokoi had a creative mind
designed the hardware. Nintendo had hours in addition to being a wholly comparable to Shigeru Miyamoto and
a game for the hardware designed by more compact product. The plan gave birth to one of the most memo-
Ikegami Tsushinki called ―Radar worked and the Game Boy outsold its rable series in Nintendo‘s library.
Scope‖. It tested successfully, and competitors by a wide margin. When Gunpei Yokoi produced Metroid in
Ron Judy and Al Stone signed to im- the technology existed to let a color 1986 for the Famicom Disk System
port the games to America. But it screen run a long time on just a few which would later be introduced
wasn‘t a hit. Judy and Stone were batteries, the Game Boy Color was worldwide in cartridge form on the
about to cancel the contract and leave released. True to his word, the Game Nintendo Entertainment System.
Nintendo with a lot of expensive in- Boy Color was powered by only two Metroid did something that few games
ventory. Nintendo tasked a young cells as opposed to the four that ran had the nerve to do. It constantly
artist named Shigeru Miyamoto with the original Game Boy. threatened the player with déjà vu.
fixing the game to move the units. So many rooms look the same the
Instead, he scrapped the whole game Many legendary games such as Super player always feels like he or she is
walking in circles. No matter what
kind of progress the player makes in
Metroid, the game regularly causes
the player to feel lost. While this
might sound frustrating, it lent itself
to hours worth of play time of just
experiencing the world not unlike
what some modern games such as
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion encour-
age. Part of the fun of Metroid is do-
ing the work necessary to understand
the environment. Not a small number
of players spent time actually drawing
up their own maps to help navigate
the planet Zebes. And while later
incarnations of the series remove the
threat of confusion, the visual style
and atmosphere make it one of the
most stunning series of games avail-
able on any console. And with the
recent remodeling of Metroid into the
form of a First Person Shooter, the
series has never been stronger.
(Continued on page 9)
8 | Video Game Trader Magazine | June 2008 |
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